Greater Los Angeles Auto ShowLeno Keeps Pace with Corvette

The Chevrolet Corvette Z06 will be the pace car at next month’s Daytona 500 race, and comedian/car enthusiast Jay Leno will be behind the wheel.

Leno is driven onto the stage for the announcement at the auto show here. For the honor of piloting the pace car, Leno professes his gratitude to General Motors Corp., but can’t help chiding the auto maker anyway.

“They let me drive it 150 mph (241 km/h) at Daytona, but they won’t let me drive 20 ft. (6 m) up a ramp?” he jokes.

A restrictor plate rule at Daytona, which keeps a lid on track speeds, means the 505-hp Corvette Z06 has a higher output than the cars competing in the race – a first for a pace car.

GM PAD Holds Appeal in La-La Land

The PAD, a General Motors Corp. concept design, is named winner of the 2006 Los Angeles Design Challenge.(See related story: Show Concept Designs Reflect Life in La-la Land )

A condo on wheels featuring a diesel-electric powertrain and a diesel generator to power its onboard entertainment and information systems, PAD bested designs submitted by nine other auto makers.

“We chose this vehicle because it was the pinnacle of creativity,” says judge Stewart Reed, chairman of transportation design at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design in California.

“This creates a new segment between the RV (recreation vehicle) and SUV,” adds Tom Matano, industrial design director at the Academy for Art University in California.

“(PAD) would appeal to many buyers, including corporations, future homeowners, traveling business people and constant travelers looking to go beyond the stereotypical RV,” he says.

Appearances Can Be Deceiving

The ’06 Mercury Mariner Hybrid is named Green Car Journal's Green Car of the Year.

After the award ceremony, dignitaries pose for a presentation photo. In the background, on a table at the Green Car booth, is a brochure from muscle-car maker Saleen Inc.

emayne@primediabusiness.com